Everything Happens for a Reason

Everything Happens for a Reason

I am a person who believes that everything happens for a reason. I have to with everything that has happened to me. If I didn’t then the universe is just cruel and unfair and what’s the point in struggling against the tide? But in stead of hopelessness, I chose to believe that, although I may not know why, and may never know why, the things that occur in my life have to happen in order for some other event to happen that creates balance in the universe. This belief brings me peace of mind and allows me to carry on trying when everything is telling me to give up.

5 years ago I went back to college to do an Access course so I could go to University. Halfway through my college course I got a very severe flu-like illness and never fully recovered. I got M.E. I was still able to complete my course (just about), but was unable to get the work experience required for the University course that I wanted to do. I was rejected from all four of my University choices and left pretty distraught. I was on the verge of giving up when my favourite University offered me a place on a different course. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it was close and it could lead me to what I wanted to do, so I accepted and went to University.

1 year of that course and my health had deteriorated to the point where I was almost completely bedbound. I was still managing to get the work done (and was getting good grades) but my tyrannical course leader said that if I didn’t show up for class then I would be kicked off of the course. If I was kicked off of the course then I would be kicked out of my campus accommodation, making me homeless. I somehow managed to get a meeting with the leader of another course who said he’d be delighted to take me on. I ended up loving that course and that department and they supported me with my illness so I was able to graduate this year with excellent grades.

If I had been accepted onto the course that I originally wanted to do then I wouldn’t have wasted a year on a terrible course and I would have graduated last year and been in work this year when the virus hit. And what was that course that I wanted to do? Child nursing. Yep, if I hadn’t gotten M.E, I would currently be a Nurse in the NHS right now.

Just saying… everything happens for a reason.

The Here and Now: An Update

The Here and Now: An Update

Once more a little more than a month has passed since my last blog post. The main reason for this is simply that although many things have happened nothing big and important enough to blog about has happened. Therefore, this blog post will be a basic update of my life over the past month and a bit.

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
Since the last post was about my cane, it seems appropriate that I begin with the news of my wheelchair. Every now and then, and far more often than I’d like, I have days where I need to do something but physically cannot. I’ve been thinking recently about getting a wheelchair and I know I’ve mentioned it on here before as well. Recently I had one of these days and it upset me more than usual. So the next day my partner and my crutches helped me to walk a few feet up the road to Ableworld where I’d spotted a wheelchair that I liked previously. I wanted to try it on a bad day to make sure that I’d still be able to use it, and I could. So we bought it and that weekend we took it bowling. I had a little trouble getting on and off of the bus, and I felt horribly embarrassed by that, but I’m happy to know that the chair is there if I need it, so hopefully I won’t have any more of those days where I have to decide whether I’m going to do what I need to do or what I have to do.

Not a diet, a lifestyle change
I have heard a number of chronic illness patients swear that a clean, low carb diet has helped to improve their symptoms. I’m not just talking about M.E here, but a whole variety of chronic conditions from pain and fatigue to migraines and allergies and, of course, digestive problems. A few of that number talked about a book by Dr Sarah Myhill. She believes (as do many scientists at this moment in time) the symptoms of M.E and Fibromialgia are caused by a lack of normally functioning mitochondria in the cells. Without going into too much scientific jargon, the mitochondria are what give our cells energy and if they can’t do that effectively, or if there aren’t enough of them, we are left without enough energy to function correctly. This explains the array of M.E symptoms including not just fatigue but brain fog and a faulty immune system as well as others. She suggests that by eating a keto-paleo diet we can help our bodies utilise the energy we get from our food more effectively. Combining this with proper pacing techniques so that we don’t waste the energy we do have, and supplementing with vitamins and minerals known to aid cell metabolism, we can gain back a percentage of our functionality. Of course, where you start will effect where you can go, she never promises a full recovery, and it is a life-long regime, but considering how many times I’ve heard it works, and the sound science behind it, it’s definitely worth a shot. I’ll leave a link to her website here if anyone wants to learn more: CFS The Central Cause: Mitochondrial Failure
So far (it’s been about 4 weeks) I’ve not noticed much difference in my fatigue, only an improvement in my digestion, but I’ve not been taking my supplements or tracking my carbs so although I have, for sure, drastically reduced my carb intake, I don’t think I’ve entered ketosis.

What’s in your head?
I’ve started seeing a new counsellor with Talk Liverpool, the lady I was seeing at Compass did not work out at all. I really tried to make it work with her, but every session I went in looking for answers and all I got was patronising sympathy. Basically, I would go in and say “this is really hard for me” and she’d respond “wow, that sounds really hard.” It wasn’t beneficial at all. The new woman I’m seeing, Claire, is much better trained. She knows how to listen, empathize, and reflect my thoughts back to me in a way that makes me dig deeper. I’ve just come back from my seventh session and I really feel like we’re getting to the crux of my problems. I am very optimistic.

A new addition
We got a cat! I know a number of chronically ill people take great comfort in their pets. They say that animals can sense when you are unwell or upset and they find a unique way of confident you. However, our new cat, at 2 years old, is still a kitten. As much as I love him and he can make me laugh, he’s more needy than I am. He requires a lot of attention and having him around the house is almost like having a toddler. He gets into everything, he destroys anything that isn’t nailed down, he’s constantly under our feet, and he cries for your attention all the time. I wouldn’t give him up for anything, but he really does try my patience sometimes. So much for a therapy cat.

Two down, one to go
My second year of uni is drawing to a close. It’s been demanding but enjoyable. I’m becoming quite apprehensive about the coming summer. In order to gain employment after I graduate, I need to have real world experience. I planned to get this experience over the summer months but I’ve been trying to contact places since before Christmas and still don’t have anything in place. As a chronically ill person, I know that employers will be hesitant to take me on, so I know I need to have something really special to be considered ‘worth the risk.’ Without any kind of experience, going into the job market is going to be disastrous for me. There are people at uni who can help me with this, but at the moment,  time, revision, and a little bit of pride, are getting in the way of me asking for help.

There’s probably some bits and pieces that I’m forgetting but for the most part you can now consider yourselves updated. I hope to bring you some more meaningful posts soon.

The Overachiever Inside

The Overachiever Inside

I am a university student in a popular field. The jobs that I will be applying to when I graduate will also be applied to by a large number of similarly qualified graduates. The extra things that I do now,  the extra time and energy that I put in, are the things that will make me stand out from my fellow classmates. This is a widely known fact here. Our peers are our future competition. I want to be a competitor but I also want to graduate.

There are a number of students in my class who couldn’t care less about their futures and those are the people I don’t need to worry about, but there are also a significant number of students who take their education and future careers incredibly seriously. These are the ones who spend extra time in the library, who ‘network’ with older students and other members of the profession, they pick up extra work experience and meet with lecturers out of hours to learn how to improve their grades.

These are all examples of things that I would love to do, and would be doing, if I could. But the extra energy it would take is extra energy I don’t have. Sometimes it takes all the spoons available just to go to scheduled lectures. I do my best to do what I can, but my health always has to be first priority. If I pushed myself to do more than I am doing I would crash and fall behind, making me worse off than I am now. So I have to settle for being an average student and hope that some employer will take pity on me or be won over by my enthusiasm or organisational skills. This is hard for me. As a perfectionist, I want to give everything 100% and be the best. Unfortunately, my body has decided for me what “100%” actually consists of, and I’m afraid it’s not enough to compete.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know I sound sour but, I’m not angry at the overachievers for overachieving. In fact, I applaud them for being so dedicated, as I would be myself. My issue with the overachievers is when they have to make sure everyone knows just how much better they are than the average student.

Go ahead and be the best you can be, that’s wonderful, but do you have to make me hate myself for not being good enough in the process?

Grant Me The Serenity To Accept The Things I Cannot Change…

Grant Me The Serenity To Accept The Things I Cannot Change…

…the strength to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.

I am back at Uni for my second first year. My first first year was failed because looking after myself became more important than passing a course I didn’t enjoy doing anyway. I have been housed in a handicap accessible flat with a seat in the shower, hand rails, and a lowered hob and sink in the kitchen. I was ecstatic to discover this as it meant that looking after myself would be so much easier than it has ever been before and I could therefore put more energy into actually studying. The flat is old though and definitely needs updating, but I’m not complaining since the benefits massively outweigh any of the insignificant issues I may have.

Today was the Freshers Fair. It’s the day when all the clubs, societies, sports groups and local businesses set up stalls to try and entice students to sign up to their thing. Last year I was dealing with anxiety levels that made crowds terrifying, but I pushed myself to go anyway because I had such lofty goals for myself and wanted to sign up to all of the things. This year I remembered how much I enjoyed it last year, but forgot to consider how much my health has declined since then. This year I had to manoeuvre through the crowds with a cane. This year I found myself looking at stalls and thinking how much I’d love to do that but, knowing that I am not capable, having to walk on by. Every stall I passed made me slightly more depressed. I can’t even take part in medical research because they need “young, healthy specimens”. I went to the library to distract myself away from crying, because at least I can still read… for short periods of time at certain times of the day assuming I’m not being badly effected by ‘brain fog’. I went back afterwards to sign up for the things I had previously decided I was going to do. I joined the Biology Society to facilitate my learning (I’m studying biology), The Pagan Society for religious support (I’m a Wiccan), The Sustainability Society so that some days I may be able to work on the allotment and the Sign Language Society since I’ve always wanted to learn but never had the opportunity to do so.

I compare my past self to my current self more often than I’d like to. It depresses me because even though I know I have to accept my limitations, there is always a part of me that resents acceptance and equates it to weakness. This is particularly annoying because when I think of my current self without the comparison, acceptance comes naturally and I am excited by things like living in a specially adapted home.

So here is the daily challenge to my mental health; accepting the change that brought about my limitations and learning to live within them, identifying the things that I am still able to do and pursuing them while disregarding the voice that tells me I’m useless, and learning how to differentiate between the two effectively.